Home & Hearth

Hey ya’ll! A quick update about my novel before I get into this post! Due to various delays, I won’t be able to publish my novel till next year. Hopefully, I will get it done in winter, but most likely it will be spring! Changing careers, Covid-19, and buying a home can really mess up your timeline.

So, I’m laying in bed right now. It’s 12:59 and I can’t sleep because of the pain in my foot due to a flare of an autoimmune disease called Psoriatic Arthritis. The fact that I can’t sleep is even more frustrating, because I have a bright and early appointment with UrgentCare at 8:10 a.m..

I’m lying here, doing what I normally do when I can’t sleep, thinking of all the good things in my life. Right now, I’m strangely comforted by the soft mellow snore of my husband as I jealously wish that I too was visiting the Sandman. I’m so excited about closing on our house in July. I know, this is an exciting thing for anyone, but it holds a special place in my heart, for while I have always had a home, I have never lived in a modern house.

I qualify a modern house, because when I was born, my mom lived in a house built by my great grandfather. It was run down, with no electric, or indoor plumbing. Where did we use the bathroom? Something called an ‘outhouse.’ What is an outhouse? Let’s just say renaissance and county fairs have kinder privies. I don’t remember much except slanted high stairs, a second floor porch I wasn’t allowed to go out on, and a black fuzzy cat named Kitty.

When I was about five years old, my grandparents bought some land, and my family moved in a small single wide trailer next door to Mammaw and Pappaw. It was clean and from what I remember, pretty. But, not long after moving, Mom and my biological father filed for divorce. Without going into the gory details too much, my father (such as he was) hadn’t been paying bills, unknown to anyone else, for months. We lost everything, including our trailer. So, mom and I moved into my grandparents house, till a few months later mom bought a tiny blue mobile home.

It wasn’t much. But, it was ours and it was home. It had the worst heating system and a window air conditioner. The kitchen was about 10 feet long and three feet wide. There was only one bathroom, but it was inside the trailer, so who could complain. My room had a little duck with an umbrella in a rainstorm painted on the cheap wood paneling. As small as it was, memories of that home make my heart swell: The year I came home from summer bible camp and Mom had transformed the entire tiny dining area into a doll house; the winters staying up late for Santa; the way my Mom went all out on a small budget to decorate for my favorite holiday Halloween; and the countless hours of Mommy/Daughter weekends filled with rental horror movies and fried chicken dinners from the gas station down the road. It was a child’s Heaven. Those tin walls are forever erected in my memory with a joy I can’t put in pen and paper. I wouldn’t have traded that small mobile home full of love for any big fancy empty house.

Halfway through middle school Mom finally traded in the blue tin walls for larger three bedroom, two bathroom, brand new mobile home. It had pretty walls and cabinets. My room was much bigger with a white and gold daybed. It’s that mobile home that holds the memories of Mom taking pictures of me when I went to prom as a Freshmen. It is where I brought home my first date to meet my parents. It was there that my best friend and I had a movie marathon to cheer me up when he broke my heart. It was there Mom and I made pizza pie. It was there I plastered my walls with anime posters and figures. It was there I still waited up for Santa because long after I knew the beard was fake, I still believed in the magic of Christmas. Other school kids mad fun of me for living in a trailer, I laughed at them and said it was a manufactured home. I smiled because my big words and sarcasm stumped them.

I went on to college and stayed in a dorm. Some memories good. Some memories bad. Stories which are for another day.

Then, for the first time ever, I lived on my own. During law school, I lived in a spacious but old apartment on the river in Grundy, Virginia. When I have nightmares, they are always set in that small town. Which isn’t really fair to the town. The people were lovely. The town was beautiful. Isolated, but beautiful. I made lifelong friends, and even found someone, a brother really, so close to me now, he got ordained just to marry me and my current husband. But, living in Grundy was Hell, because law school was Hell. Grundy was never home. It was the place I thought marrying my first husband would fix our relationship. It took me ten years to learn better. My home then, was where my mother lived. My Mom’s house was the place I escaped too on occasion. My home.

While waiting for bar exam results, I moved in temporarily with my parents (my mother and step-father for whom I skipped family law class so he could adopt me). After, I passed the bar, I was offered my first job as a public defender. I accepted, and then started looking for a place to rent.

I found this double wide trailer on an acre of farmland outside the city. I remember when I first saw it, there was snow on the ground and the smell of cold December Kentucky air. There were holly trees with red berries clinging to the house, and a horse and cows in a field near the property line. It’s the biggest place I’ve ever lived. I’ve lived here now for over ten years. I thought it was a beautiful home, but, even my once best friend’s husband made fun of me living here, calling me “trailer-trash.” However, I lay at night snug in my bed under a metal roof, warm and content with the fact that I’m a legal-aide lawyer who still makes twice the money his small mind does. Though I’m not rich by any means, I am finally happy, and that is a wealth most fail to achieve.

It is this home, that I find myself laying awake conflicted about. This home is where I suffered and toiled through an emotionally abusive marriage. Yet, this home is where I broke free. This home is where I told my now-husband the words ‘I love you’ for the first time. This is where hundreds of hours have been spent traveling to the far reaches of imagination playing table-top role-playing games. It where I had my first Christmas as a stepmother. It’s where I rang in my first new year as Mrs. Perkins. It’s where Mom and Dad visit me still, and where we have family holidays. It’s where I first took my steps out of a wheelchair. It’s where my hubby and I play board games and co-op video games. It where I curl up at night, in the arms of the most amazing man, when I can’t sleep from the throbbing pain of my disease.

It’s 1:53 a.m., and the ghosts of this home cling to my heart. In a month or two, we will have a house, a big beautiful house, with a foundation and garage and even a in ground pool, but isn’t the building that will make it our home. A house doesn’t make a home. It’s not the foundation of the building which creates a hearth. It is the life lived in the structure which breathes light into the hearth and sparks the first heartbeat of a home.

Goodnight! I apologize for the long post. Now, to get some sleep.

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